The Sixers set the bar on tanking over the last several seasons, compiling teams that had no shot to be competitive with an eye on landing the No. 1 overall pick. Philadelphia’s bold strategy led to conversations on the topic and even efforts toward lottery reform. However, this season it appears every team is at least trying to put its best foot forward and the topic has become a dead issue, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News argues.
“Nobody is doing it this year,” one general manager said. “You need to get your owner on board if you are going to tank an entire season, and I don’t think any owners have the stomach for it anymore. They gave up on it in Philadelphia, because the owner in the end didn’t want to keep seeing his team be a laughingstock. I think there is a lot of pressure from other owners not to let your team go in that direction. It’s something owners worked out among themselves.”
Commissioner Adam Silver believes that teams have realized the importance of trying to win games.
“You don’t want teams to intentionally be bad,” Silver said. “I think, as I said [back in 2014,] there is invariably a correction in the marketplace as well, regardless of what rules we have on the draft lottery. The fact is, teams don’t want to be bad for a long time. They need to sell tickets, they need to keep their fans engaged, our owners care about their reputations, the players don’t want to be part of losing traditions. If you noticed this season, I think there has been a swing back to the realization that culture is important, building winning traditions is equally important.”
Deveney adds that the topic of tanking hasn’t been part of the discussion during negotiations on the new CBA, which is something that both sides believe could be reached sometime next month.
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